It’s no surprise that we are huge goat milk fans at Bend Soap. Well before we began using raw goat milk to make Goat Milk Soap, Goat Milk Bath, and other all-natural personal care products, we were filling our glasses with it and reaping the tremendous health benefits.
As it turns out, we’re not alone. According to recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans have gone crazy for goat milk, and dairy goat herds increased 61% from 2007 to 2017 to keep up with demand. But now that goat milk is moving from the margin to the mainstream, and more and more people are interested in trying it, the question is: Where do you find the best goat milk?
Buying goat milk direct from farms
Our number-one recommendation for purchasing goat milk is to buy direct from a goat milk producer. Aside from supporting a local farmer, this action will also ensure that you get the highest quality milk. Why? Because when you buy milk directly from a farm, it is often raw and, thus, still full of the nutrients that makes it so healthy.
The pasteurization process was developed to kill disease-causing bacteria in dairy and other products. It also helps to ensure their shelf-life by allowing them to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles in refrigerated trucks before they ever land on your grocery store shelves (where they might sit for another week or so until it’s purchased).
But when you’re buying directly from the source, you don’t have to worry about transit times and shelf life. You can keep your goat’s milk in its original, healthiest state and then take it home immediately to store in your refrigerator or use in recipes.
Pasteurization requires high heat, and in addition to eliminating any harmful bacteria, it also kills all the good stuff in goat milk. This is why we use raw goat milk when making our products. We want to ensure that the naturally occurring nutrients—like moisture-boosting lactic acid—remain perfectly intact so that they can penetrate deep to heal your skin and improve its texture.
If the safety of raw goat milk is a concern, buying direct from farmers also allows you to get to know their farming practices. Though not as bad as cow’s milk production, which has been largely overtaken by factory farming, goat milk is still produced on a relatively small scale, particularly in the United States. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t the potential for unhealthy farming practices.
Farmers with larger herds are more likely to give their goats antibiotics, sometimes without a veterinarian’s prescription. What’s more, residue from some medications can be found in goat’s milk up to a week after treatment. It’s important, then, to find a goat milk farm that you trust, whether through a local farmer’s market, by visiting them directly, or even shopping online. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you can now find producers of high-quality goat milk who accept online orders and will ship their products nationwide. Two of our favorites are Dutch Meadows, based in Lancaster, PA and Miller’s Organic Farm.
Should you raise your own dairy goats?
I know the idea of raising your own dairy goats may seem extreme to some people, but if you are committed to adding more goat’s milk into your lifestyle (particularly raw goat’s milk), and you don’t have access to a nearby goat milk dairy, raising goats may be the most cost-effective option. In fact, this is exactly why our family began buying milk goats.
While goat’s milk isn’t an ideal breast milk substitute for infants, we knew it was a better alternative than cow’s milk once our babies had been weaned. But as the cost of goat’s milk began rising, and we continued having children, we realized that purchasing goat’s milk from other dairies wasn’t the best financial decision for our families.
In February 2007, we purchased our first milk goats (Molly, Velvet, and their three kids). And by 2014, we adopted out first billy goat, Mr. Alpine, to breed the does in order to produce more kids for milking.
By this time, of course, we were no longer just drinking goat milk. Our son had developed eczema, and we discovered that raw goat’s milk was soothing and healing to his dry, itchy skin. We began making soap from goat’s milk, quickly realized that it was far superior to toxic traditional soaps, and, soon, Bend Soap Company was born.
As our company grew, so did our need for goat’s milk. But before launching our business, a few dairy goats suited our family just fine. All we needed was enough space for them to graze—and a barn, as winters get pretty cold here—as well as enough hands to keep the goats milked and happy.
Weed ‘Em and Reap has as a thorough post on the cost to purchase goats and to maintain your herd on a monthly basis. Suffice it to say, if you have a family and are considering going all-in on goat’s milk, you will recover the initial cost of your goats very quickly.
Buying goat milk at grocery stores
The increased popularity of goat milk means that it is now available to purchase in many stores, but this is our least favorite place to buy it. Not only is the milk sold by large goat milk brands pasteurized, they are often produced by goats living in large herds on large, factory-like farms. As a result, those goats are more likely given processed feed, as well as vaccines and/or antibiotics.
If you’ve never tried goat milk, we encourage you to do so, even if that means picking up a carton from your nearby grocery store. But once you’ve fallen in love (and we believe you will!), we hope that you will begin purchasing raw goat milk from a smaller, independent producer. And when you’re feeling up to it, don’t be afraid to raise your own goats. We did!
Back to You
Goat milk is bursting with benefits for health and skin, and we are so excited that the rest of the country is discovering what we, at Bend Soap, have known for years. We hope you’ll give goat milk a try, if you haven’t already, but keep in mind that all goat milk isn’t created equally. When possible, try to purchase (or produce) raw goat milk. It’s the best for you, hands down.